TIME TO FACE THE FACTS - The Struggle to End Vivisection
As the end of 2005 fast approaches, it might be a good time to take a long hard look at the position the anti-vivisection movement is currently at, and what the future might have in store in our fight to end vivisection.
This article is, I confess, a collection of thoughts, ideas, comments and suggestions based on a number of years of experience in the anti-vivisection movement, making it a personal opinion albeit, I hope, an informed one.
This article is written for those who in the first place have an open mind as to how we might proceed from here, even if that means a radical change in the way of doing things, and secondly for those who truly want vivisection to end, as opposed to seeing it as a way of boosting egos, or worse still as a way of providing a career. Finally, it is aimed at those who will be able to accept a little criticism of some of the groups, organisations and tactics currently being used within the AV and animal rights movement.
Although much this same message will have been said before there is to my mind nothing wrong with restating facts when they so desperately need to be heard
In the first instance we must all face the fact that despite the enormous outlay in money, manpower and time, the struggle to end vivisection has to date been a failure, inasmuch as the practice still continues, sanctioned by law as 'essential to human health.'
Where, then, is the movement as a whole going wrong? Just why is so little progress being made, despite years of campaigning during which time a colossal amount of money must have been spent?
Fact one: we must face the fact that vivisection will ONLY end by an act of parliament.
Fact two: we must face the fact that vivisection will ONLY end when enough people stand up and demand of their politicians that vivisection ends.
Simple. Yet the question we must ask is, why do relatively so few people support the movement to end vivisection? Sure, most people state that they would prefer that animals were not used in this way, if there were any 'alternative' (!), but the fact of the matter is that most people do not actively support the campaign to end vivisection for one simple reason: BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE THAT IT WORKS.
Now, many people hate hearing this truth. With an overwhelming optimistic naivety considering the way of the world today - one which has become less humane and not more - it appears that most animal rights people sincerely believe that the public will go out of its way to end a practice which it perceives as being purely one of animal cruelty, even though few people will oppose this cruelty if they believe it 'saves human life'.
And I am sure, that deep down most AR people must realise this. Do they truly believe that the public will rise up in large numbers to end something which it sees as being in the main altruistic, life-saving, and even essential to human health? I am sure that the reality is that if the question was contemplated for any length of time the verdict would be simple: No, Mrs Smith will never oppose vivisection if it delays the chance of finding a cure for little Tommy's leukemia, or her aging grandfather's alzheimers, or any of the thousand and one other diseases and illnesses which ravish today's society.
In short: VIVISECTION WILL NEVER END WHILST MOST PEOPLE BELIEVE IT TO BE AN ISSUE OF ANIMALS VERSUS HUMANS. The humans will win every single time, and the animals will lose every single time, and vivisection will continue until the end of time.
Even with 'animal issues' that are not promoted, nor can be seen in any way, as being 'essential for health', such as fur farming, circuses and zoos, legislation prohibiting or restricting such activities has been scare, and when it has come about, has been hard won. How much harder would it be to ban vivisection using these ethical arguments alone, considering the huge vested interests of the drugs industry that are at stake? Does anyone seriously believe that cries of 'animal cruelty' will by themselves end the gigantic industry of vivisection, and which involves considerably more money than circuses or zoos?
For those who are unable to grasp this basic understanding of human nature, I would suggest that they read no further. To everyone else, we must proceed with this argument, looking at what can be done to readdress the situation.
But, many will cry, how about Hillgrove? Consort? Shamrock? Aren't these victories proof that current tactics are working, that vivisection's ultimate demise is inevitable? It is my belief that these tactics alone will never end vivisection for the simple reason that firstly there will never be enough people, for a variety of reasons, that will engage in this sort of campaigning, and secondly that the State will always be stronger. Despite much bravado by many within the movement, there will become a time when successive new laws criminalizing once legal protest, and the introduction of ever-harsher punishments for illegal actions, will deter ever greater numbers of people from engaging in actions which might result in lengthy jail terms.*
As much as I have respect for those within SHAC, SPEAK and the like, and as much as I admire the courage of those such as the ALF, whose actions have done so much to expose the criminal actions of the vivisection industry, I fear that they will never be able to be more than an irritant to the state-legalised violence of the vivisection maniac.
Consider also: the media, time and times again, brainwashes the public into believing that animal rights people are not only terrorists, but are terrorists who would without hesitation put out of business the very people perceived by the public as the only ones who are able to find the so desperately needed life-saving cures. In other words, the idea has been fostered in the eyes of the public that animal rights people who engage in direct action ARE A VERY THREAT TO THEIR OWN WELL-BEING, AND THAT OF THEIR LOVED ONES!
And it is of no value at all in discarding these people and saying to hell with them. As we have seen, if we are to get outlawed the massive and institutionalised violence that is the vivisection industry, we need protests on huge scales, and comprised of all members of society. We MUST get them on our side.
Despite the admiration I have for the courage, determination, time and effort put into the movement by many, it is my personal belief that it is largely all in vain for the simple reason that the two basic facts outlined near the start of this article have been forgotten; we have forgotten to understand basic human nature, and which can be summed up as one of survival. I do not believe that most people aren't caring, but rather that they care in the first instance for themselves and that of their loved ones. Animals, to them, will always come in at third - or even lower - place.
I also have a suspicion that there are further reasons for the current state of little progress, and one of these can be summed up by a further look at human nature. Anyone who has been on a protest march, or demonstration, will testify to the adrenalin pumping excitement brought about at such events, and everyone goes home feeling good and believing that the day when vivisection will end has been brought a step nearer. Whilst I would not personally decry the value of protests and demonstrations, for they do have some value, in the main I believe that they are money and time consuming side-tracks which make us feel good but do very little by way of stopping vivisection. In the early 90's I attended a march in London on World Day for Laboratory Animals that attracted 20,000 people. With barely a mention in the industry-beholden media, can anyone really say that it was worth the time and effort put into it?
In the 80's, the defenders of vivisection began to wake up. Circulated by those whose job it is to see the proliferation of vivisection was a classified document proposing tactics to ensure the continued survival of vivisection, and which subsequently fell into the hands of AV campaigners. Unfortunately, what should have been a wake-up call for the AV movement unsurprsingly resulted in a state of no-change. These documents revealed the tactics - and which in hindsight have been remarkably effective - that were to ensure vivisection's survival for a long time to come. And those tactics can be summed up in one sentence: to do everything possible to ensure the public's naïve acceptance of vivisection through brainwashing as to the drastic and life-threatening effects which it would have should animal experiments end.
A whole host of tactics were proposed:
The media would be targeted with a constant barrage of 'medical breakthroughs' thanks supposedly to vivisection.
Schools would be sent vivisectionist propaganda, or speakers, extolling the 'benefits' of vivisection.
Doctors' surgeries would hold vivisection-endorsing propaganda informing patients as to how their treatments were the result of animal research.
Patient groups and medical charities would be targeted with information as to the essential nature of vivisection and current medical research, which would supposedly not be possible without vivisection.
Vivisection would be endorsed at any and every available opportunity, such as on TV, or in newspaper letters.
Politicians would be the recipients of pro-vivisection propaganda outlining the supposed huge benefits health-wise and economically, of the vivisection-based pharmaceutical industry.
Guidance was given as to how to behave, and dress, when participating in debates, knowing full well the often over-emotional nature of anti-vivisectionists and AR people.
And much more besides. Today, we can clearly see just how effective these tactics have been.
AND THIS IS WHY VIVISECTION EXISTS!
The fact that vivisection is cruel and against any and every moral law known to man, and that it is useless to boot is immaterial. Vivisection is a huge industry, essential to the pharmaceutical and chemical empires if they are to unload their potentially harmful products onto the marketplace. Why does the public accept this torture of sentient beings, despite the expose of one laboratory infiltration after another? Because the public has been brainwashed into accepting it as a 'necessary evil', essential for the well-being and indeed survival of themselves, their family and loved ones. Yet without the support of a significant proportion of the public vivisection will never be abolished, by law.
This is the bad news. The good news is that we have right on our side at every turn; the moral, ethical, scientific, medical, environmental, and financial arguments are all in our favour. The simple fact is, that as a movement we have not had the courage to face up to these facts, but have rather gone down the well-trodden path of failure every time, despite all the evidence suggesting that by doing so it will lead us nowhere, or minor sporadic victories whose only value is of boosting egos. Do we really care enough, as a movement, to put aside those things which makes us feel good, and to face facts? Only time will tell, but it is truly my belief that only by doing so, and facing the ultimate challenge, and exposing and destroying the whole rotten fundamental system on which the very survival of vivisection rests will we ever see it abolished.
So, what must be done?
As the public has been brainwashed into accepting vivisection as a 'necessary evil', it is now the duty of those who want to see vivisection end to undo this brainwashing.
As a movement we must recognise the past history of the anti-vivisection movement. I feel this to be truly important, for we are told that when we forget the past, we make the same mistakes. The AV movement has a rapid and massive turnover of supporters for one simple reason. As has been pointed out by anti-vivisectionist pioneer Hans Ruesch, most people join the AV struggle full of enthusiasm only to eventually drop out when they realise the 'baby or the bunny' argument makes the AV case doomed to failure. This is a terrible tragedy, for we cannot afford to lose good people on our side.
For the animals, for us, and for the planet there is no time left to waste with more mistakes. We must educate ourselves all we can about the people, the organisations and the actions and tactics of those who have gone before us in the struggle. This website has a lot of information in regards to this, and in particular importance here are the two CIVIS Bulletins and numerous Foundation Reports of scientific anti-vivisectionist and medical historian, Hans Ruesch. These articles, highly and justly critical of many people and organisations supposedly fighting vivisection during these crucial years of the late 70's, 80's and onwards, are of the most vital importance, for they reveal the lost dreams and hopes of a generation of campaigners, just why so little changed (at least for the better) during those times, and why we are at the position we are currently at.
And I would suggest, from what I see, that the same mistakes are being made, again and again, and with the inevitable consequences of lost hopes, people again putting their faith in the wrong people rather than relying on themselves, and deliberately being misled by groups whose motives are far from honest. I really cannot stress enough how important these writing are, and how they should be read by EVERY anti-vivisectionist. Find them at:
CIVIS Reports introduction
We must be wary of large 'anti-vivisection' organisations, however well-meaning they sound. Again this website contains a number of revealing facts about some of these organisations and just how their actions, whether out of naivety or otherwise, do more to sustain vivisection than to end it. Trust your instincts; read the CIVIS literature; form small groups that cannot be overtaken by vivisectionists, and which has clearly been done to some effect over past decades.
We must all bear in mind that industrial sabotage is very real within big business, and no business comes bigger than the pharmaceutical industry. It is with constant amazement that I see the denial of this basic fact within the animal rights and anti-vivisection movement. Infiltration is very real.
We must avoid all discussions of "alternatives" to vivisection for such an idea only REINFORCES the false belief that vivisection works, and thus cannot be abolished as yet. We must take on board, as a movement, if we truly desire progress, that the majority of people will never take our side whilst they believe that vivisection 'works' and, as we have seen, we must have the population at large by our side in this if we are to end vivisection. To labour the point: PEOPLE, IN THE MAIN, WILL NOT OPPOSE VIVISECTION IN ANY WAY OR FORM, IF THEY BELIEVE THAT IT WILL CURE THEIR CHILDREN OF CANCER.
It is vital that we understand that each time we promote, in any way, the notion of having to find 'alternatives' to vivisection, or some other way of testing before vivisection can be abolished, is to simply play into the hands of those who would see animal research continue indefinitely. It is constantly amazing to see the number of animal rights websites that carry links or other adverts for these various 'Alternative' funds. See the following for more info on these:
The Deception of Alternatives to Animal Experiments
Alternatives? Alternatives to What?
I suspect that many campaigners have a deep, and sometimes not so deep, feeling that by acknowledging the scientific and medical arguments against vivisection, that they are 'pandering' to the public, many of whom may well be meat-eaters, and so in some way 'different' from us. Maybe they are feeling that it is being disloyal to the animals, or to the movement as a whole. An 'us and them' attitude has thus been created, and this is the last situation we want to encourage as it means ALIENATING THE VERY PEOPLE WE NEED TO HELP US END VIVISECTION!
Many feel, in some bizarre way, that it is only right that we oppose vivisection purely on the grounds that the practice is cruel, and that these arguments ALONE will end the atrocity of vivisection. As we have seen, this is never going to happen, and human nature is very much proof of this. As said earlier, we have right on our side, and as such we need to encourage every person possible to join us in our demands to see vivisection abolished, whether their concern is that of wanting truly effective and safe medicines to be available, or whether it is the fact that billions of our money are being fraudulently wasted angers them, or whether it is concern over harmful chemicals finding their way into our air, water and food, a genuine anti-vivisection movement would welcome one and all, even if, dare I say it, they didn't care one jot for the lives of animals. My interest is only wanting to see vivisection end; the personal reasons of each person who helps bring this about is of little concern to me.
A recent and short debate I had on an animal rights forum exposed exactly the mentality held by many sincere but naïve campaigners. My criticism of some film about vivisection made by the BUAV attracted a message by one of their employees who said (in reference to me): "If he'd looked at it - instead of just finding an excuse to be negative - he'd have seen undercover footage of toxicity experiments - exactly the kind of thing the vivisectors don't want people to see."
For more on the BUAV see:
BUAV - A Sick Society
The Enemy Within
(And the many articles in the previously mentioned CIVIS Bulletins and Reports.)
And so the whole charade goes on; expose after expose; AV organisations purporting to be doing something to help end vivisection. Doing in fact just what their members - employees even - expect them to do, simply because they know no other way. Had this person investigated thoroughly the history of the AV struggle he/she would have seen that this expose would have very little effect in the long run of ending vivisection, simply because the public is happy to tolerate any cruelty for so long as it believes it will save human lives; it is the whole premise by which vivisection has been able to thrive for many, many years, and will continue to do so until the AV and AR movement wakes up and faces the truth.
There is ONLY ONE argument that the vivisectors and their allies fear: the argument that vivisection is a potentially life-threatening pseudo-science whose results are detrimental to each and every one of us, and costs us a packet to boot. I.e. the very argument avoided at all costs by some of the bigger societies whose paid job it is to bring this information to the attention of the public (but for some reason don't), and the argument the very importance of which a generation of ill-informed, though sincere, activists are in the main totally unaware of.
We must, as a movement, employ EXACTLY THE SAME methods and tactics as the defenders of vivisection have so successfully used. Whilst it is true that due to a gutless and industry-beholden media we can do little to rely on the support of the TV or press, we do have much in our favour.
We have endurance, we have determination, and if we stop wasting it by recycling it back to the vivisectors via their 'Funds for Alternatives', we have some money at our disposal too.
Vivisection, by its long existence, has been found time and again to be useless, counterproductive, and a potential threat to the health of all of us. THIS is the message that we must take to the very ones - ordinary Joe Public - who will help us to achieve our objective: the total abolition, by law, of vivisection. And it should be pointed out that these people are hardly likely to be found on trading estates, or along deserted lanes in the middle of the countryside. I truly believe that so much could be achieved if only the current enthusiasm seen in time-consuming protests aimed at the most abstract of targets (a children's nursery anyone?) was put to better use.
We must, as a movement, and preferably working as small groups which cannot be infiltrated, albeit in a coordinated manner if possible, expose vivisection in any and every way possible as the health-destroying, unscientific, putrid, environmentally damaging, life-taking, costly, pseudo-science that it is. And of course we can even mention that it is unforgivably cruel towards millions upon millions of sentient lives.
These are the facts we must face, however unpalatable they may at first be to some, if we sincerely want, with all our hearts, to see vivisection end as soon as possible, rather than in centuries to come.
* Phil Clayton of the New Zealand AV Society has also made the very valid point that whilst there might well be some small victories here, vivisection is increasingly being 'exported' to Israel, China, etc, meaning that these 'victories' are somewhat hollow in that they only shift the problem elsewhere whilst vivisection continues unabated.